Magnesium Hydroxide Slurry vs Caustic Soda

An Alternative Alkali: Magnesium Hydroxide Slurry vs. Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide) for Wastewater Treatment

On February 9, 2021, The Washington Post reported that hackers took control of a water treatment system in Oldsmar, FL and managed to increase the dosage of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) 100-fold.

According to The Washington Post:

Excess levels of sodium hydroxide could accelerate corrosion, Liu said, which would force the city to buy new piping at a "huge economic cost." If ingested, the contaminated water with a concentrated level of lye could "damage the human cells," he said.

At the news conference, Gualtieri pointed out that lye is the main ingredient in liquid drain cleaners. "This is dangerous stuff," he said.

Fortunately, an operator at the water treatment facility was watching this event as it unfolded and was able to change the dose back to normal levels quickly. While cybersecurity risks may feel remote, Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties has heard many customers’ concerns regarding the dangers of overfeeding sodium hydroxide (caustic soda).

Many facilities are dealing with limited resources and limited availability of manpower and may also have systems which are not well controlled with sodium hydroxide. Under these conditions, it is not uncommon for plants using sodium hydroxide to overshoot pH targets, resulting in many of the potential health and environmental risks described in The Washington Post above.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties’ FloMag®H Magnesium Hydroxide Slurry can neutralize acid and provide alkalinity just as sodium hydroxide but without the risk of a dangerous pH excursion. Magnesium hydroxide is a milder and weaker base than sodium hydroxide with lower solubility in water, resulting in a buffering effect where in the event product is overfed, the pH will not rise much above 9.

Many microorganisms, which are used in biological wastewater treatment systems, require a very tightly controlled pH range in order to thrive. The buffering effect of magnesium hydroxide slury will provide a much more stable pH over time in addition to eliminating the risks of pH excursions. Magnesium hydroxide slurry is non-hazardous and much safer to handle than sodium hydroxide. In addition to these environmental and health benefits, magnesium hydroxide is usually less expensive than sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) on an equivalent alkali basis.

It is becoming clear to many water and wastewater treatment facilities that sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) is not worth the environmental and health risks to the operator and surrounding communities. Fortunately, there is a low-cost and safe alternative with FloMag®H Magnesium Hydroxide Slurry.

Please visit here to find a Sales Manager for your region. We have a team of technical professionals which can make the conversion to magnesium hydroxide slurry as seamless as possible.

For more information regarding your application or to place an order, please call 800-648-7400 (inside the U.S.) or +1-410-780-5500. Or, Contact Us with your questions.